March 25, 2012

OPA Finals

For our last week in Europe, we headed to Toblach, Italy for OPA Cup finals. I have always loved racing in Italy. There is great food, big mountains, good weather, and its much cheaper than the rest of Western Europe. Toblach was no exception. We stayed in a nice hotel right across from the stadium up high in a valley with beautiful mountains and it was about 60 degrees and sunny everyday. We also had a bunch more people join us from the World Cup which was great!

The finals consisted of a 3 day mini tour, which means that we had 3 races in 3 days and an overall winner was declared by combining our times for all three days. Day 1 was a prologue, which is a short (2.5k) individual start race just to sort things out and kick off the tour. I did not have a great day. It was icy out and all my injuries were acting up. Prologues are a tricky race to pace so I still have work to do there. Day 2 was a 5k individual start classic race, one of my favorites. I had a much better day, but I felt I was on the brink of having a great day and didn't quite make it there. Racing is Europe is much tighter so every second you give up out there equates to places. It is imperative to race very aggressively and make up time in every place you can think of. This is something I am still working to improve in my own racing. Day 3 was a pursuit start 10k skate. Pursuit start means that you start based on our time back in the previous 2 races so the person that crosses the line first if the overall tour winner. It generally makes for an exciting race. I had an OK race for myself. It is always humbling to spend some time racing in Europe and it also helps to identify your weaknesses and strengths so I feel that I am head back to the U.S. with a serious to-do list for summer training.  However, my teammate Holly Brooks was able to take the overall tour win which is a first for the U.S.!!!!!!!
We checked out a castle in Bled, Slovenia on the way to Italy. Bled is a beautiful area
Inside the chapel in the castle

Pietro Piller Cottrer and his fan club

APU ladies enjoying the sunshine

Watching the boys

APU Girls Team Photo, what babes

Some skate racing

Toblach has a pretty serious stadium and the race trail actually goes up and over this building!

The whole APU OPA team

Skiing in the Pursuit start race 
Enjoying Italy!
We spent the last night in Munich and I had a late afternoon flight so I took the opportunity to check out the city for the morning. 

Thanks to Holly and Lauren for all the photos! Next stop, Craftsbury, VT for the last 5 races of the year!